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Senate expresses concern over CBN’s cash withdrawal limits

…debates policy Tuesday …threatens 100 agencies with zero budgetary allocations over N1.9trn Service Wide Vote

Senators yesterday expressed reservations over the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s plan to impose restrictions on cash withdrawals from January 9. Under the CBN’s new withdrawal policy, which was announced Tuesday, the maximum cash withdrawal over the counter by corporate organisations and individuals weekly is N100, 000 and N500, 000 respectively. During plenary, the Senate’s Minority Leader, Phillip Aduda called the attention of his colleagues to the new policy as he made a failed attempt to move a motion on the proposed N100, 000 withdrawal per person per week, leading to the issue being formally discussed on the floor. According to him, the cash withdrawal limits will affect the economy, requesting the debate of the new policy.

The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) representative said:“Ourcommerce, Ithink, is not ready for this and our economy cannot take this shock. “There is a need for us to speak about it because people are suffering and it is a very serious issue.” But the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan interrupted him, saying it was too early to debate it.

Lawan, however, told the CBN to tread carefully on the issue, saying many Nigerians would be affected. He said: “As good as the cashless policy may be it shouldn’t be jumped at, at once. The way the CBN is going about the policy many Nigerians would be cut off and that won’t be accepted. “Motion on the policy will be thoroughly debated on Tuesday next week after adequate information has been gotten on it. Before Tuesday next week, our committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions mandated to screen the reappointedDeputyGovernors of the Central Bank should focus its questions on the planned policy.

“The CBN Deputy Governors must be thoroughly drilled on the policy after which extensive debate on it will be made by Senators on Tuesday next week.” Meanwhile, the Senate threatened 100 agencies with zero budget allocations in 2023 for not honouring the Committee on Public Accounts’ invitations to explain issues concerning the Service Wide Vote (SWV) expenditure from 2017 to 2021.

This followed the complaint brought against them by the Chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Mathew Urhoghide (PDP Edo South). Some of the agencies are the State House, Presidential Fleet, Ministry of Finance, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, police, and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Urhoghide had cited orders 42 and 95 of the Senate Standing Rules, to brief the Chamber on the alleged recalcitrance of heads of the affected agencies to honour invitations sent to them by his Committee for explanations on SWV given to them by the Presidency totalling N1.9 trillion. Hinging his complaints on provisions of Sections 62, 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the chairman said the heads of the affected agencies failed to honour several invitations sent to them. According to him, the SWV is extra-budgetary spending made to fill shortfalls in capital and recurrent expenditures, which are not audited by the Auditor General of the Federation and not known to various standing committees of the National Assembly.

“Mr President, heads of agencies totalling about 100 indicted in various audit reports forwarded to the Public Accounts Committee by the Office of Auditor General of the Federation in line with provisions of sections 62, 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution, have repeatedly failed to appear before us. “This to us is against the constitution and policy of accountability and transparency of the Federal Government. I crave your indulgence that we invite through your order either by way of warrant of arrest or anything so that these agencies can come so that we can complete our report and submit it to this Senate.” Angered by the submission, Lawan requested the list of the agencies, read them out and ordered that they should appear before the Committee within one week or risk zero budget allocation in 2023 as far as the capital expenditure component is concerned.

 

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